Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

The Judiciary’s Role in Fundamental Transformation

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Judiciary’s Role in Fundamental Transformation

On Nov. 21, 2013, on a near party-line vote, the Democratic-controlled United States Senate eliminated the possibility of a filibuster on confirmation votes for many federal appointments. The new rule allows nominations for most executive positions and all lower court federal judgeships to move forward in the Senate with a simple majority vote rather than the 60 votes needed to end a filibustered nomination. Although he opposed an identical proposal to change the Senate rules in 2005, President Obama was quick to take advantage of the new rule, now that it could be used to his benefit. In a little more than a year since this rule change, its effect on the federal judiciary has been significant. Nine of the 13 federal courts of appeal now have a majority of judges who were appointed by anti-gun presidents.

While a president’s party affiliation is not necessarily determinative of how his judicial appointees will decide cases, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were behind all the Democrat appointments of currently active federal judges. These presidents are no friends of the Second Amendment, and Clinton and Obama in particular adamantly pursue gun control. To assume this agenda wouldn’t influence their judicial appointments is dangerously naïve.

Many gun owners understand the importance of appointing Supreme Court justices who will faithfully interpret the Constitution, but the importance of lower court appointments, especially to the federal circuit courts of appeal, is often overlooked. Because of the sheer number of federal cases, lower court decisions often set the tone of constitutional debates and establish the rules under which people live for years. Lower federal courts have decided cases on important issues from whether the right to bear arms applies outside the home to the scope of protections provided by federal interstate transportation of firearm laws. The total list of gun-law issues currently pending before lower courts is too long to list here, but these examples illustrate the importance of keeping anti-gun partisans off the bench.

The Supreme Court itself illustrates how a president’s viewpoint can resonate through his judicial picks. In 2010, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the dissent in the landmark McDonald case, arguing that there is no constitutional right to own a firearm. And earlier this year, Justice Elena Kagan wrote an opinion affirming the conviction of a former police officer for buying a firearm for his uncle, even though both men successfully passed background checks before receiving the firearm. Opinions such as these from the high court only serve to embolden anti-gun judges throughout the federal judiciary.

Federal judges often serve as a legacy for the presidents who appoint them and the senators who confirm them. A federal judgeship is essentially an appointment for life, subject only to impeachment by Congress. Judges often remain on the bench for decades after the presidents who appointed them have left office. As an example of how long this can be, several judges who were appointed by President Kennedy remain in the federal judiciary on senior status (i.e., in a semi-retired role). These judges illustrate that it’s entirely possible for a president to have an impact on the legal landscape for more than a half-century.

As Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., told the New York Times earlier this year, the filling of judicial vacancies “will affect America for a generation, long after the internecine battles on legislative issues are forgotten.” One of those “internecine battles” that Schumer was likely referring to was his failed attempt to pass a number of expansive gun control measures out of the Senate last year. He clearly sees the recent spike in appointments—thanks largely to the elimination of the filibuster he supported—as a backdoor opportunity to shape our nation’s gun laws in a way that he has been unable to accomplish through legislation. Anti-gun Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., went even further, commenting on “the need to have people there that are of an ideological like mind.”

The midterm elections have now been decided, but the struggle for freedom continues. The appointment of judges can, as much as anything, contribute to President Obama’s stated goal of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”  This is yet another reason gun owners must stay informed, alert and involved. Now, more than ever, your NRA is here to help you understand where the battle for freedom will be joined.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Chris W. Cox
Chris W. Cox

BY Chris W. Cox

NRA-ILA Executive Director

Follow This Contributor

Chris W. Cox has served as the executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of NRA, since 2002. As NRA’s principal political strategist, Cox oversees eight NRA-ILA divisions: Federal Affairs; State & Local Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research & Information; Conservation, Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox also serves as chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the Association’s political action committee; president of the NRA Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF), which focuses on non-partisan voter registration and citizen education; and chairman of NRA Country, an effort to bring country music artists together with NRA members in support of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage.

TRENDING NOW
Maryland: House Passes Pro-Carry Legislation

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Maryland: House Passes Pro-Carry Legislation

Yesterday, the Maryland House of Delegates passed House Bill 1036 by a 97-41 vote.

Ohio: Critical Self-Defense Law Takes Effect Today!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ohio: Critical Self-Defense Law Takes Effect Today!

Today, March 21, the provisions of the critical self-defense legislation, Sub. Senate Bill 199, go into effect.  Thanks to your active involvement last session, this bill was signed by Governor Kasich last December.  This law ...

Illinois: Gun Seizure Bill Could be Heard by House at Any Time

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Illinois: Gun Seizure Bill Could be Heard by House at Any Time

The Illinois House of Representatives could consider House Bill 2354 at any time.

Arkansas Action Needed: Anti-Gun Bill Which Undermines Concealed Carry Headed to House

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Arkansas Action Needed: Anti-Gun Bill Which Undermines Concealed Carry Headed to House

Today, the Arkansas Senate passed Senate Bill 724, an anti-gun bill which undermines some of the key advancements made with the passage and enactment of House Bill 1249.  SB 724 is now headed to the ...

Oklahoma: Multiple Pro-Gun Bills Passed Out of the House

Friday, March 24, 2017

Oklahoma: Multiple Pro-Gun Bills Passed Out of the House

This week, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed multiple pro-gun bills, including House Bill 1721, House Bill 2323, and House Bill 2322. 

Utah: Governor Signs Self-Defense Legislation into Law

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Utah: Governor Signs Self-Defense Legislation into Law

Tonight, Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill 198 into law.

Maryland: Pro-Carry Legislation Pending Final Vote on House Floor

Monday, March 20, 2017

Maryland: Pro-Carry Legislation Pending Final Vote on House Floor

Today, the Maryland House of Delegates passed House Bill 1036 on second reading.

Nevada: Senate Passes Anti-Gun SB 115

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nevada: Senate Passes Anti-Gun SB 115

Yesterday, March 21, the Senate passed anti-gun Senate Bill 115 with a 12-9 vote.  SB 115 was sent to the Assembly for further consideration.  Sponsored by state Senator Moises Denis (D-2), SB 115 would expand the list ...

Texas: Two Important Handgun Carry Bills to be Considered in Senate and House Next Week

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Texas: Two Important Handgun Carry Bills to be Considered in Senate and House Next Week

On Monday, March 27, the Texas Senate will convene after 2:00pm and is expected to take up and consider Senate Bill 16, NRA-backed legislation sponsored by State Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Joan Huffman (R-Houston).

Continuing to Fight in California

Friday, March 24, 2017

Continuing to Fight in California

We are excited to inform you of our new California specific webpage – Stand and Fight California.   On this page you will find State Legislation, Legal Updates, and How to Get Involved, among other California ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.